Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tubby Tuesday: Breakfast Smoothie

I've been on the on-again off-again "diet" thing for a long time.  A really, really long time.  Thus far, two things I've stuck with.  No more cokes (going on three years!) and getting my fruits through smoothies each morning (going on three months!).  So far, I'm fitting into a pair of jeans that I haven't managed to squeeze into in over two years. 

I'm happy.  I'm feeling better.

I've eliminated morning breakfast sandwiches and stopping at Panera or Starbucks for a scone and a coffee.  Well, let's be honest.  It was never just "coffee," but almost always some form of chocolate/peppermint/pumpkin spice/blah blah blah.  So much useless sugar.  So likely to lead to a crash later in the day.  I'm not starving at my desk at 10:30.

Of course, my decision to try going to smoothies came from seeing so many recipes on Pinterest!  Specifically a pin that took me to this page:  How To Make a Smoothie on superskinnyme.com 

Totally easy, right?  All you need is a blender and stuff.  Most stuff you probably buy at the grocery store anyway.  Or, if you aren't buying it, you should be!

Each morning, I load up my blender and make my own smoothie, which goes in my Super Special Smoothie Cup, and I drink it on my drive to work.  This is one of my go to simple smoothies.

Bling, bling!

 Simple Smoothie

1/4 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
8 oz. 100% apple juice
1 banana
1/2 cup HEB frozen Papaya, Mango, and Strawberries
1/4 cup Bulgarian or Greek Yogurt
ground flax seed
sprinkle of cinnamon or a smidgen of local honey

You can also add in some spinach, but I found that I'm not going through spinach fast enough and it goes bad before I can eat it.

Here's the trick.  Blend in sections unless you have a Nutribullet or something similar.  I have a pretty basic Oster blender.

1.  Combine raw rolled oats, apple juice, and flax seed.  Liquify it!
2.  Add banana, frozen fruits, yogurt, and cinnamon/honey.  Grind it until smooth.  I normally pulse a little bit on liquify as well. 

What I learned very quickly is that throwing everything in the blender at once doesn't get your oatmeal broken down and leaves you with a really lumpy smoothie.  The whole point of a smoothie is that it's smooth, amirite? 

There is a lot you can do with a smoothie.  With frozen fruits and berries readily available at your grocery store, it's super easy.  And it can be cheap.  The bags of papaya, mango, and strawberries I bought at my local HEB (a Texas grocery store) were $1.38/each.  A buck and change!  Bonus is that you can also thaw it and mix it with yogurt for a nice treat.  Make sure that you are buying JUST the frozen fruit, not fruit in sugar or syrup. 

Have a great one!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My New Little Sister

I can't believe that I have said there is nothing new to write about when it comes to my crazy family.  There is.  There's a new addition to the clan.  My darling new little sister, Sophie.
Ain't she just the cutest?
October 2011 this little bundle of joy entered my parents' hearts.  She came from the barn where I keep my show pony.  A little darling accident of a puppy my mother refers to as a "Southern Comfort Terrier."

When we first heard that one of the barn dogs was expecting, my mother was very excited and mentioned that she would like to have one of the little darlings.  Time went by, we didn't see any puppies, and we forgot about it.  Until one day.  That fateful day when I was going to lunch with a friend from the barn and saw a cute little bundle of white fur playing outside the barn worker's house.

I found out the dog was available and called Mom.  Who hesitated.  What?!

The next day, I convinced her to come out and at least meet the little dear.  She agreed and fell in love.

Now here's the part of this story that should give you pause.  My dad hates little dogs.  HATES them.  He makes fun of those people who cart their Chihuahuas around everywhere with them, and feed them treats constantly.  He HATES dogs in the house.  When I had a Chihuahua, Twiggy, (haha, I was one of Them as a 12-year-old) she was not allowed anywhere near my parents bedroom.  Now that you've read that, I should point out that is my father with Sophie in the picture above.  Whhhhaaaaat?

When Mom and I were on the way to their house with Sophie in tow, my mom was panicking.  Despite Dad saying he didn't care if Mom got the dog, she was convinced this was the worst idea ever and wanted to take the dog back.  She didn't.

A few days later, I went by and my dad was laying on his bed watching Judge Judy, with the dog on the bed next to him.  This is the man who didn't like having a dog in the house.

"Is Dad sick and you guys haven't told me?" I asked Mom.

"What are you talking about?" She replied, confused.

"Dad and the dog?"

"Oh, yeah, he put her up there.  Apparently, he really likes her."

That would be an understatement.  This dog is the light of their lives.  After I do or say something stupid, I'm given an exasperated look and then regaled with a tale of how smart and perfect and amazing Sophie is.  I hear more about how great that dog is than anything else.  If I call my Dad, the first thing I hear is a Sophie story.  He has even texted me about her.  Sophie is so smart.  Sophie is so funny.  Sophie is so cute.  Sophie is so athletic.

Suddenly I know what it's like to be the older, disappointment of a daughter.  Second to the dog.  Perfect, darling Sophie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tubby Tuesday: Pumpkin Curry Soup

I've decided to combine some of my hobbies with my blog for a couple of reasons.  
  1. It will encourage me to post more.  And I know you want that.
  2. My family has been relatively normal lately.  I'm not really sure what's going on.  It's strange and awkward and new and I'm not sure that I like it. 
I decided to start posting a few of my favorite recipes.  Why?  Because recipes and food makes sense.  You see, I love to eat.  And that necessitated a love of cooking.  

So with that, let's have a grand flourish and unveil..... Tubby Tuesday.  Let's get started, shall we?


Maybe it's because it's finally feeling like fall here on the Texas Gulf Coast.... Maybe it's because pumpkin is absolutely everywhere this fall... Maybe it's because I recently watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It's a great film.  You should watch it if you haven't already.

Anyway, I've been craving a pumpkin soup.  There are a lot of them out there, but I wanted something simple, and fairly quick to make.  I wanted something creamy.  I wanted something with a flavor that didn't say "Hey, you're eating a squash."

I happened upon a recipe for curry soup on the best ever online store for spices.  I think I'm in love.  Really.  Not only do they have great mixes of spices, and practically every spice under the sun, they also have recipes posted on their page.  I highly recommend this site:  Spices by Spice Barn.  That's where I came across an intriguingly simple recipe for Pumpkin Spice Curry.  Which I have amped up a bit with a few additions for a really simple, fairly quick to make, creamy, non-squashy soup that's perfect for fall.  I also had to make a few changes simply because tomatoes make me sick.  Really.

Pumpkin Spice Curry

Check out that totally awesome cell phone pic.  I know what you're thinking "This girl is a real are-teest!"

(adapted from www.spicebarn.com's Pumpkin Curry Soup)

1 tbs Vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored, and finely chopped)
1 1/2 tbs curry powder
3 tbs white flour
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
2 14 oz. cans of clear, low-sodium chicken broth (if you want a thinner soup, use more broth!)
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for serving

1.  Heat oil over medium heat.  Saute onions until clear.
2.  Add garlic and heat for two minutes.
3.  Stir in curry powder and white flour.  Heat for two minutes, stirring constantly.
4.  Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, and apple.  Bring to a rolling boil.
5.  If you have an immersion blender, then you are just doing all right.  Blend your soup smooth.  If you don't have an immersion blender (like me) then use a regular ol' machine and blend in batches until smooth.
6.  Return to pot and add half-and-half.
7.  Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste
8.  Serve in bowls (duh) with a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy it.  I did.    

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Sheep and the Traffic Circle

When my older sister and her guy first started raising grass-fed lamb, Elizabeth purchased a pair of Dorper rams over the internet.  Dorpers are big, hardy sheep.  They are from South Africa, so you know they are tough.  They grow fast -- reaching around 80 pounds at three and a half months.  Big, thick, hardy, delicious sheep.

Elizabeth bought these guys, Chuck and Larry, off of some grainy pictures and a few phone calls.  The sheep were outside of Houston.  Elizabeth lives near Amarillo.  Mom and Dad picked up her sheep and agreed to keep them at the farm until they could deliver them the 525 miles or so to Elizabeth's front door.  Texas...it's a big state.

Remember how I said that Dorpers are big sheep?  When a big sheep gets startled, they just sort of run.  And sometimes that running includes through a barn wall next to the gate.  The next time you are sitting down to grass-fed lamb and feeling a little sorry for the cute little sheep you are eating, picture something big and strong enough that it can run through a barn wall and keep on running.  Not so cute now are they?

Also, if you happen to be in the way of one of these sheep when they decide to leave the premises, they will go right over the top of you.  Picture something big enough to go through a barn wall running over the top of a person.  It's sort of like being hit by the neighbor's hillbilly child on his minibike.  Just WHAM! and then the realization "Did...did I just get run over by a sheep?" as you pick yourself up off the ground. 

They are like athletes as they soar over the gate.  As they race down the road.  As they bowl over the dog and shimmy under the barn gate toward freedom. 

Mom likes sheep.  She has a pet sheep named Andy who basically has run of their property.  She doesn't eat lamb.  She says it is because she doesn't like the way it smells and tastes, but I think it has more to do with the fact that she likes sheep.  Sort of like how I won't eat rabbit.

After Larry went through the barn wall, and his and Chuck's subsequent round-up, Mom had hit her wooly loving limit.  It was time for Chuck and Larry to go meet the ladies of the Texas panhandle.  We hooked up a horse trailer, sheep-proofed it, and hit the road.  Sheep-proofing a two-horse bumper pull trailer is a little redneck.  We bungee-corded a panel across the open part of the trailer to keep the darn things from jumping out. 

Here is the thing about roadtrips with my mom.  Between my mom, the GPS, and me, we are bound to get turned around or lost at least once a trip.  This trip was no exception.

We missed an exit entering whacky Waco, Texas.  There is a traffic circle in Waco.  Two lanes.  Four roads feeding in/out.  Not a daunting structure...especially not at 10:00 on a weekday morning.  Unless you're my mother.

Remember this scene?

That was my mom, my sister, and I.

There was no one else on the traffic circle, but Mom was too afraid to move over.  We must have gone around it five times before we finally got her moved into the correct lane and another two before we managed to get her onto the correct road.

Following the traffic circle debacle, we were late enough to be caught in the lunch rush hour in the DFW area, and didn't even make it to Elizabeth's place until well after dark.  Luckily, both rams were still in the trailer.

Elizabeth met us on the driveway and started to throw open the back door to the trailer before the stress of the trip got to Mom and she yelled something to the affect of "I swear to God, if you lose them after all the shit they've put me through!"

We backed the trailer up to the pasture, opened the gate, and they hit the door running.  As the two white blurs disappeared into the darkness, Mom stood thoughtfully for a minute.  "I hope you have strong fences."

Friday, December 24, 2010

The List or "How I Ruined My Sister's Christmas"

Every year I write a Christmas list of things I would like to have for my mother and siblings to shop from. It started when I was seven years old and I realized there was no point in writing to Santa.

There I was, a little kid, asleep in my room. Like any kid told to go to bed at 7:30 on Christmas Eve to stop bugging their parents, I slept lightly. A pin dropping to a carpeted floor could have awoken me. You see, it was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. My stocking was hanging from my bedpost complete with Santa Alarm to wake me so I could see the big guy.

Instead I was awoken by a clatter of a different sort. The dogs were barking, there was a crash on the front porch and a loud "GODDAMMIT!" I leaped from my bed, and sneaked down the hallway to catch Santa in the act. Instead of finding a jolly, red-faced, rotund man, I found my father. He was red-faced, definitely not jolly, but sort of rotund. He was also trying to get a freshly put together bicycle through the door.

I was shocked. And saddened. It was true. Santa Claus didn't exist. It was my mom, there sticking wrapped gifts under the tree, and my dad putting handlebars on another bicycle. I crept back to bed and went to sleep. Not only did I know what to expect under the tree, but the whole fantasy of Christmas was gone. I did not wake at the normal pre-dawn hour. My siblings called me out of bed, "BIKES!" "SANTA CAME!"

I couldn't tell them the truth. There was no way. I dutifully crawled out of bed and went to see which bike was mine.

There was not a bike for me under the tree. Three bicycles, none for me. I had a Barbie and clothes. Clothes! I spent Christmas sitting on the porch steps watching my siblings ride up and down the driveway on their brand new bicycles. And I decided I should obviously have been a little more direct in what I wanted. No more, "I've been good, I would love new toys!"

Since then, the list has pretty much determined if I have a good Christmas in terms of the presents received. Good Christmas = getting things from the list. Bad Christmas = someone deviating from the list.

When I was in Junior High, I had a horse named Tiny. I bought her with my own money I had saved from babysitting when she was just a foal. About Christmas time, I had started working with Tiny on learning to stand tied. Tiny didn't like this idea and things weren't going well.

That Christmas morning, I ripped open my gifts to find nothing from my list. Socks. Socks! And a gigantic bungee cord.

"It's so you can teach Tiny to stand tied! This way if she sits back, she won't tear the barn down," my mother responded to the look of disbelief on my face.

What a crappy Christmas, I decided. A little while later found my older sister and I sitting in our room. Our beds sat directly across from each other. She sat on her bed, I sat on mine. Between us stretch the bungee cord with its heavy duty snaps on either end.

"What a crappy Christmas," I said.

"It could have been worse," she responded.

"At least you got cool stuff," I replied. "All I got is this crappy bungee cord."

We stretched the bungee cord and unstretched it. Stretched and unstretched. At some point, I decided to spice things up and would loosen my grip when the cord was stretched and catch it back before it slipped through my hand.

I let it slip, and caught it. Let it slip, and caught it. Let it slipped, and missed.

The heavy duty snap hit my sister right in the eye. She wailed. I apologized.

"She could have lost her eye," my mother scolded me later. "You could have blinded her!"

"I just wanted a make-up kit!" I replied. "I didn't want a bungee cord!"

I spent the rest of the day in my room. My sister had a black eye. And that's why you shouldn't deviate from the Christmas list.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I am a terrible driver.

I will fully admit that I am an awful driver. This will tell you why.

To start with I never took Driver's Ed. I waited until I was 18 and sat down in a dingy DMV and took a written test over a book about those namby-pamby rules of the road that I didn't read and passed by the skin of my teeth. I drove around a bit and then borrowed my sister's 1992 Ford Taurus and winged my way through a driving test. I was probably 4 feet from the curb during parallel parking and at one point my tester yelled for me to slow down. Yet, he passed me. God Bless Texas.

I had a license. I was UNSTOPPABLE. I ended up with my first vehicle, Clooney and drove terribly for over a year.

I killed Clooney.

I drove so much on that old truck that when it became an issue, it would have cost more to fix Clooney than we originally paid for Clooney. I sold Clooney for cash and ended up with my new car, Eve. Eve is a 2008 Dodge Caliber.

The interesting thing switching from a truck to a soccer mom mobile is that you go from being above everyone else to below everyone else. The other hard thing to deal with is the sun.

When I drive to work in the mornings, I drive East. When I drive home, I drive West. I also have poor vision. So, on the days I wear contacts I'm fine. On the days I wear glasses, I have a problem.

The sunvisor goes down and promptly blocks out the entire windshield. I lean my seat back so that I can see out the windshield. Now, I am driving leaned back, one hand on the wheel, and squinting into the sun. I look really tough.

The problem with this is that I also can't see out of my mirror. So I have to lean forward to look into the mirrors and hope I don't hit anyone.

I say mirrors. I should say mirror. Because I hit the other one off on a pole.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Update

So, it looks like I abandoned this thing for a while. Like, a year. Well, over a year. Sorry.

Basically, I was caught up doing other stuff and kept saying "I'll write on the blog later....I'll do it later..." Kind of like what happens when I get a jury summons and realize that it was supposed to be faxed in at noon the day before and it is now 4:00pm the day before.

I suck. I know.

What have I been doing...

To start with, after leaving Dollar Tree I went to work at an after school program. That was a pretty sweet gig except being poor.

So, I worked and worked and worked. And then I worked some more.

And then, I landed a job. A real job! A job I'd actually applied for and interviewed for once and was second best. And I love it. I love my job! And I love having health insurance again.

And I moved out of my parents' house! I'm now chilling in the back apartment of a house built in 1912 and divided into three apartments. It is tiny. I still have a ton of decorating to do. But I love it!

I also added a new dude to my life.

Isn't he the cutest? His name is Snuggles and he is basically amazing. In fact, right now he's serving as a foot warmer. Such a useful little guy! You will hear a lot about him, I'm sure.

Hmmmm.... sadly that is pretty much it! I worked a lot, I rode my ponies, I searched for jobs, I landed a job I hated (more on that later), I landed my dream job, I got the cutest little ball of fur ever.

Again, sorry for the disappearance. I will try to keep this thing updated from now on. :)